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What's wrong with my tomato plants?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by somer on April 20, 2006 08:10 AM
I bought these plants at Wal-Mart and transplanted them into large terra cotta pots. I water them three times a day and they get full sun most of the day. I noticed that they started to loose the bottom leaves shortly after I planted them. Some of the leaves have yellowed slightly and then these strange patterns showed up on them. They have not flowered and the one that I have the picture of has one tomato that is starting to ripen and looks great. They both have new leaves on the top that are green and pretty, it is just the lower leaves that look like this. Any ideas?

by Wrennie on April 20, 2006 08:43 PM
Have you inspected for bugs?
Sounds like too much water too.
I'd prune off the effected leaves & toss them out.

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by johnCT on April 20, 2006 09:05 PM
Sounds like a possible soil borne disease. Blight maybe. What type of soil are they planted in? Regular garden soil or a bagged mix? The pic is not very clear, can you take a better pic? Check the link below and see if any of the pics match your plants.

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John - Zone 6
by somer on April 20, 2006 10:23 PM
Thank you, it looks like it might be leaf miner larvae. I will have to see how to treat it. I am using a bagged potting soil in them. I water them so often because it is hot and dry here. I do check before watering so that I only keep them moist and not soggy. I will try to get a clearer picture but the only digital camera I have is on my cell phone and it never takes very clear pics.
by heidi_ho80 on April 21, 2006 01:35 AM
Hey John just wanted to tell you what a GREAT link that was. I hope none of that stuff ever happens to my plants but I will know where to look to diagnose the problem.
by Sorellina on April 21, 2006 11:32 PM

I know this is a drag because you've already put your tomato in its pot, but in Texas, I reeeelly wouldn't put a tomato in a terra cotta pot EVER. It just dries out way too quickly and it's so much extra work to try and water them so often. Do yourself and your tomato a HUGE favour. Get a 15 gal plastic container, white if at all possible, some Pro-Mix or other soilless mix for containers with water-retaining granules and transplant your tomato into that. You'll be giving your plant such a better start and it will reward you with lots of flowers and tomatoes. You'll still have to deal with some blossom drop because tomatoes don't set flowers well when the temps rise above 90F, but you'll get some. Try to find a spot for it where it gets 12 hours of sunshine, but not on a reflective surface like a driveway that will make the ambient temperature so much more brutal.

Buona fortuna,

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by peppereater on April 21, 2006 11:55 PM
To clarify what Julianna said...I looked at your pic, and it looks to me like that may be a plastic terra cotta lookalike's the clay pots that dry out badly. If they're not clay, they're okay to use. She also had a point about the size of the pot, recommending 15 gallon size. If you can't afford that size, you might contact a landscape contractor and ask if you can have their throw-aways. (I stole that idea from Weezie! [grin] )
I'm going to be growing a few tomatoes in 5 gallon, 10 gallon and 15 gallon pots to see how they do...but I've got over 50 plants, I can gamble. [thumb]

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by Longy on April 22, 2006 02:22 AM
If the lower leaves on the tomato plants are all that is affected, just remove them. They are an annual plant anyway and you're not growing them for the leaves. Leaf miner tend to attack young growth and leave a silvery trail under the skin of the leaf. Older leaves which were affected will look curled and misshapen but they will be otherwise OK., The larvae responsible will leave the leaf and then the leaf gets curled up as it ages. Older leaves are susceptible to fungal diseases such as blight and wilts. This could be the yellowing. It's really just a natural part of the aging process with tomatoes. These lower, yellowing leaves should be removed and the plants should not be watered overhead as this helps the spread of these diseases.

SO, flood the soil at ground level, in the morning is best so the area is dry at night and remove affected growth as it starts to yellow. Dispose of these leaves in the rubbish, don't compost them. Mulching will help to retain moisture and also help prevent water splashing up onto the leaves during rain.

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The secret is the soil.

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